SMS data collection

Components of SMS-Based Data Collection and Service Delivery

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jun 28, 2010
Components of SMS-Based Data Collection and Service Delivery data sheet 2914 Views
Matt Berg
Publication Date: 
May 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

An overview of the components, approaches and techniques used to build mobile phone-accessible applications that use SMS text messages as a conduit for data collection and service delivery. SMS-based applications represent a paradigm shift allowing innovative new approaches to monitoring and data collection fundamentally changing the way we can approach the delivery of critical health, economic and social services in resource-poor settings. SMS has the potential to fill significant connectivity and service gaps, particularly
for the world’s poor, until data networks and phones that can support them become more ubiquitous.

Evaluating the Accuracy of Data Collection on Mobile Phones: A Study of Forms, SMS, and Voice.

Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Aug 21, 2009
Evaluating the Accuracy of Data Collection on Mobile Phones: A Study of Forms, SMS, and Voice. data sheet 2834 Views
Somani Patnaik, Emma Brunskill, William Thies
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009

While mobile phones have found broad application in reporting health, financial, and environmental data, there has been little study of the possible errors incurred during mobile data collection. This paper provides a quantitative evaluation of data entry accuracy on mobile phones in a resource-poor setting.

Via a study of 13 users in Gujarat, India, the authors evaluated three user interfaces: 1) electronic forms, containing numeric fields and multiple-choice menus, 2) SMS, where users enter delimited text messages according to printed cue cards, and 3) voice, where users call an operator and dictate the data in real-time.

Results indicate error rates (per datum entered) of 4.2% for electronic forms, 4.5% for SMS, and 0.45% for voice. These results caused the authors to migrate our own initiative (a tuberculosis treatment program in rural India) from electronic forms to voice, in order to avoid errors on critical health data. While our study has some limitations, including varied backgrounds and training of participants, it suggests that some care is needed in deploying electronic interfaces in resource-poor settings. Further, it raises the possibility of using voice as a low-tech, high-accuracy, and cost-effective interface for mobile data collection.

SMS Critical in Election Monitoring in Ghana

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Dec 07, 2008

The CODEO Election Observation Center for the all-important 2008 Ghanaian election is a busy place.  Data operators are sitting on rows of computers monitoring incoming SMS messages from 1,000 polling stations around the country.  Mobile phones are ringing constantly with calls from the observers in the field.   Maps of the 230 constituencies in Ghana adorn the walls of the modern building at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Accra.  

The Observation Center, affectionately called the "OC"  by CODEO staffers, is the technology hub of the massive amounts of qualitative and vote count data that is pouring in from the more than 4,000 election observers deployed by CODEO, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers.  This makes it by far the largest deployment of election observers in this year's election.  Mobile technology, and text messaging in particular, is playing a critical piece in relaying both qualitative data on how the election is being conducted, and quantitative data that will verify the official results issued by the Ghanaian Election Commission.